Can We Toque? Reuben’s, Franschhoek


The bad news is that Reuben’s has closed. The good news is that it has opened again. I was heartbroken to hear that my favourite restaurant was closing, but my heart rose like a dove (and even higher than a North Korean missile) when I heard it was just moving a few metres from its original location.

Drooling like my dogs as they watch me selfishly demolish a bag of chips, I hot-footed it to the new Reuben’s as soon as I got to the winelands for my latest hols.

As expected, I was greeted with a very warm welcome and staff who were infinitely more charming than my fellow diners (grumpy tourists; it was raining).

There was a short but scrumptious menu, and we were soon bombarded with freshly-baked bread and some butter, which I gather is a bit of a rarity in the Cape these days.

We started with a fresh and cured beef tartare, and tempura prawns. Both were bloody superb.

The prawns had a brilliant spicy ginger accompaniment, which was hidden under a pile of vegetation, so I discovered it too late to fully appreciate it. (A good excuse to return for the same dish the next night). The prawns were encased in a batter that was superbly light, lighter than the safe on the Presidential jet after a discreet stopover in Dubai.

While we noshed during a quiet lunch service, there were two waiters facing us. One was in a pair of torn jeans. I have a set of sexy torn jeans for when I am on the prowl, but I would never dare wear them to Reubens. It just seemed a bit strange.

My starter was followed by a rack of lamb. I found it a tad fatty, and there was far too much jus, which I found surprisingly sweet. But this was more than made up for by the superb parmesan and truffle chips. (For which we were charged extra. Come on Reuben. Do you really need the cash?).

There were various blobs of colour around the plate, one of which was pesto and one of which wasn’t. We almost didn’t get the chips. They didn’t arrive with the main courses, and we had to prompt their arrival.

Cob was the fish of the day, and it came with a nicely crisped skin. Simple, but excellent. Proof once again that you don’t need to be too elaborate with food to serve a delicious meal.
We had a glass of wine each from the good selection of wines by the glass – a Chardonnay and a Lynx Cab Franc.

The sparkling water and white wines were beautifully chilled. The red was too warm, and I had to rescue it with a few ice cubes. Chill, Reuben. That’s an order, not a request.

Opting to end with the cheese platter, the clearly under-briefed waiter told us they were imported cheeses.  Reuben in the past has supported and promoted local producers, and I found this unbelievable. Watching me turn red and in clear distress, the manager corrected the clueless clown to say the cheeses were, in fact, local.

There was magnificent chevre (goat’s cheese) rolled in ash, a local pecorino, something that smelled like Helen Zille’s socks towards the end of her three-day no-shower regime, and a rather hard and unripe camembert.

They rescued me and swapped the camembert for another slice of chevre. I was offered a glass of Lynx dessert wine with the cheese, and it was superb. Not as cloying and overly-sweet as some dessert wines can be. Bliss squared. Or maybe cubed.

Once Reuben has cracked the whip a bit in the kitchen, and especially with the waiters, this place will return to its rightful place as the must-visit destination of Cape gastronomy. I will be back.
The bill for two, with tip, came to R1 185.

My rating? 4.5*. But I am confident it will very soon soar to 5*.

Key to the Ratings….
1* Dog food is nicer
2*. Cat food is nicer
3*. Not bad if Woolworths is sold out of ready meals.
4*. I like it
5*. I love it. Not to be missed.

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